In the eleventh week of 2018, the United States has seen a total of 17 school shootings, totalling an average of 1.5 shootings a week and, sadly, no sign of slowing down.
The country was rocked on Feb. 14, when a 19-year-old former student named Nikolas Cruz brought an AR-15 assault rifle into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and killed 17 people, injuring 17 others. The shooting was one of the deadliest in U.S. history, where sadly, these tragedies have become common occurrences.
The people of the United States are deeply divided over what to do about to stop this grizzly trend. Many survivors of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High have rallied behind the hashtag "Never Again," calling on lawmakers to ensure that their school is the last to accrue such a body count. Yet, within 10 days, that was already impossible, as another school shooting had occurred.
Many of the students want to see tighter restrictions or even bans on assault rifles, like the one used by Cruz. Many also called for the institution of a waiting period, and the raising of the age limit from 18 to 21. On the other side of the political spectrum, second amendment supporters proposed the idea of arming teachers and other school personnel, so that they could intervene in case of an attack.
The Florida state government tried to appease both of these sides by implementing a new law that meets some of each group's demands. The state launched a new program that will train and arm teachers, coaches, and others on campus at any school that volunteers. Proponents of this idea hope that it will serve as a deterrent as well as a security measure.
However, some weren't pleased with the concessions lawmakers made to get that law on the books. In Florida, consumers now need to be 21 years or older to purchase rifles and long guns. They also need to wait three days before taking their purchase home. The move led the National Rifle Association to sue the state of Florida for allegedly impeding on its citizens second amendment rights.
As the national conversation on guns and school violence carries on, students continue to arrive in class every morning feeling unsafe, and some have died.
The year's first school shooting took place in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. A Winston-Salem University football player named Najee Ali Baker was shot and killed at a party at Wake Forest University, according to a report by WFMY, a local CBS affiliate. Baker was 21 years old.
A 15-year-old student shot 16 people at Marshall County High School on Jan. 23, according to CNN. Two other students were killed while the rest suffered gunshot wounds.
Police arrested the suspect on the scene, and he faces two charges of murder and 12 counts of first degree assault. The murder victims, Baily Holt and Preston Cope, were both 15-years-old.
On the final day of January, a 32-year-old man was killed in a shooting at Lincoln High School, according to ABC 6. The victim, identified as Ralph Kennedy, was caught in the midst of an enormous fight, encompassing dozens of people. Callers told 9-1-1 dispatchers that there were shots fired in the school parking lot around 3:51 p.m.
Kennedy was reportedly at the school for a basketball game. Police suspect at least three different guns had fired.
Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at the high school he had been expelled from less than a year before. Cruz purchased his weapons legally, and fell through the cracks of a number of systems in place to help him cope with his mental health issues.
The shooting ignited an unprecedented conversation around school violence and gun laws when students from the school channeled their grief into activism. They have organized an event called March for Our Lives, where people from across the nation will protest in Washington D.C. and other cities on March 24, calling on lawmakers to implement new gun laws.
The suspect in yesterday’s shooting on SSU campus is now in police custody. He is not an SSU student. SSU police continue to investigate the shooting incident yesterday that resulted in the death of an individual, who was also not a university student.— Savannah State (@savannahstate) February 25, 2018
A shooting reportedly took place on campus at Savannah State University on Feb. 24. One person was shot and later died at the hospital. However, according to the university, neither the shooter nor the victim was a student at the school.
"The suspect in yesterday’s shooting on SSU campus is now in police custody," read a tweet from the University account. "He is not an SSU student. SSU police continue to investigate the shooting incident yesterday that resulted in the death of an individual, who was also not a university student."
A shooting in a dormitory at Central Michigan University left two dead, according to a report by CNN. Eric Davis Jr., a 19-year-old student, allegedly killed his parents as they visited the dorm room.
One student was killed and another was critically wounded at Huffman High School in Birmingham, Alabama, according to CNN. Police didn't offer many details on the investigation, though they shooting was thought to be an accident around dismissal time.
On the same day, a student was shot in a dormitory at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. His injuries weren't life-threatening.
On March 20, a student shot two classmates in the hall at Great Mills High School in Lexington Park, Maryland. Police believe the female victim had previously been in a relationship with the shooter.
The school's resource officer responded to the shooting and exchanged fire with the assailant, however, his office couldn't say whether it was his bullets that killed the suspect.